Digesting more than just food
In Ayurveda - the sister science of yoga - digestion is at the core of your health. If you digest food well, you get all the nutrients you need, you eliminate what you don’t and you have the energy to work, have fun & family/social time.
Inspired by Ayurveda, in this article I would like to take a look at the energetic aspects of digestion and share some yoga tools to balance your energy body, change your mindset and the quality of your life for the better.
I’m very excited to talk about this topic because I believe this is where yoga can really offer you so much more than a fitness class at the gym.
WHAT’S PRANA & THE ENERGY BODY?
Prana is the life force energy which pulses through energy channels or nadi of a living human being. It’s similar to blood running through the circulatory system in your physical body.
The science of yoga teaches that each of us have a physical & a pranic or energy body which are interlinked. The physical body is tangible, made of muscles and bones. The energy body is the invisible operating system of why you do the things you do or why you have the thoughts you think - i.e. negative self-talk, not speaking up for yourself or having poor boundaries.
BENEFITS OF WORKING WITH ENERGY
Your energy body cannot be seen, but it can be felt - i.e. when you enter a room with an angry person you can feel the tension. And if you don’t know how to work with energy, you might end up becoming angry too for no reason!
On the other side of the spectrum, when your energy body is open and balanced, you feel more creative, inspired and collaborative, you have a more positive attitude towards life & you feel more confident. This is probably the most extraordinary benefit of yoga & meditation.
DIGESTING NEWS & MEDIA
Physical digestion is the process of breaking down food into substances the body can use for energy, tissue growth, and repair. The rest is waste and it’s eliminated.
The same process applies with other inputs you “ingest” every day -i.e. News, social media feed, emails, social interactions. You take them in, break them down into pieces of information, learnings, feelings you can use for energy, personal growth and healing. The rest should be released.
Unfortunately this isn’t always the case. Let me share an example.
A colleague who is younger than you got promoted. How do you “digest” this input? Are you happy for them or do you feel envious? Do you start comparing yourself with them, feeling “less than” or “better than”?
If you feel envy or judgement, something “went wrong in your Pranic digestive system”. You heard the news, maybe you felt a crunch in your stomach. You gave this feeling a meaning of “I’m not good enough” and you absorbed this information in your energy body without asking yourself: “is this thought, a piece of information which is nourishing me?”, “Is it energising me, teaching me something new or bringing me closer to who I really am?”.
That split second where you discern if this “input” is nourishing you or it’s “garbage for your mind” changes YOUR WHOLE EXPERIENCE.
This is why it’s important to be aware of your energy body and to learn how to work with it through yoga & meditation. You can use the awareness you cultivate on your mat to shift your perception of what’s happening around you in your daily life.
Over time, you’ll become a “master of your own energy”, choosing how you want to feel and what you want to think to serve your physical, mental, and spiritual evolution. All the rest can be released.
Let’s take it one step further…
Vayus means “winds” or “currents”. It’s how energy moves through the nadis or energy channels. There are 5 VAYUS, but for the purpose of this article which is focussed on digestion, let’s unpack the PRANA VAYU and APANA VAYU.
The energy that flows inward & upward. It’s physically associated with the nostrils, throat, mouth, lungs, diaphragm and the heart. Prana Vayu is responsible for the INTAKE, providing the basic energy that drives you in life (which is prana).
It’s often associated with your breath and more specifically to your inhalation. It also includes all the other inputs I mentioned above (the food you eat, the news you read, the movies you watch, etc). When your intake is too much or toxic in nature, this energy current gets unbalanced and it can result in anxiety, fear, anger, heart palpitations.
To balance the excess of Prana Vayu: you can rest in Savasana, practice Yoga Nidra, make your exhalations longer than your inhalations -i.e. 4:6 ratio, dim the lights in the evening 30-60 mins before you go to bed, and take a walk in nature.
The energy that flows outward & downward. It’s physically associated with the lower abdomen, pelvis and large intestine. Apana Vayu is responsible for ELIMINATION. It’s the balancing energy of Prana Vayu and it can also be associated to your exhalation. Imbalances in Apana flow can show up as constipation/diarrhoea, IBS, menstrual problems, sexual issues.
To balance the excess of Apana Vayu: practise breath of fire (don’t do breath of fire if you’re pregnant or menstruating), spinal twists, and engage Mula Bandha (lifting your pelvic floor in & up like pulling a tissue out of a tissue box).
If you’re ready to have an experience of your energy body, balancing your Prana & Apana Vayu, eliminating what no longer serves you, then practise this 20 mins yoga class with me:
Thanks for reading until the end, you ROCK!
Until next time…
Be WILD, be YOU!